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Air Canada's first A330 with new business class seats enters service

June 25, 2020
4 min read
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Air Canada has invested heavily in improving its long-haul business class product in recent years, including retrofitting a number of older jets with its flagship Signature Class cabins. Those seats had only been available on 777 and 787 aircraft, but yesterday Air Canada's first Airbus A330 featuring the improved business class seats took to the skies.

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The plane in question is a 20-year-old Airbus A330-300 with the registration number C-GFUR. After flying to Seletar Airport (XSP) in Singapore in October to begin the retrofit process, the plane returned to Canada at the end of February. Yesterday it operated its first commercial flight with the new cabins: Flight AC311, a 4:41 flight from Montreal (YUL) to Vancouver (YVR).

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While the economy cabins (laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration) have been refreshed as well, the biggest improvement comes for business class passengers. The planes used to feature a 1-1-1 herringbone seat, similar to what you'll find on Delta's older A330s (but not the new A330-900neos). The seats were fully flat and offered direct aisle access for every passenger, but they weren't especially competitive in today's market.

Based on the photos Air Canada shared on its Twitter account, the A330 business class cabin now features Colins Aeropsace Super Diamond seats, similar to those found on the carrier's 787s and 777s. This is also the same seat you'll find in China Airlines business class cabins and on WestJet's new 787s, and it's one of the best "off the rack" seats an airline can buy.

Further Reading: Upping the Ante: Air Canada’s 787 in Business Class From Shanghai to Montreal

(Photo courtesy Air Canada via Twitter.)

According to Flightradar24.com, the aircraft is scheduled to operate between Montreal and Vancouver over the next several days, likely to give crew a chance to familiarize themselves with the new cabin. After that you'd expect Air Canada to put this premium offering on longer international routes, such as the many flights it operates to Europe with A330s.

How to book Air Canada business class

As a member of Star Alliance, you have plenty of options for booking Air Canada business class using points and miles. Normally the carrier operates a fairly robust route network to Europe and Asia, though that's obviously been slimmed down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Given that the A330s are primarily used for flights between Canada and Europe (as well as transcontinental flights like Montreal to Vancouver), let's take a look at how you could book those routes using points and miles. The prices below are for one-way business class awards:

ProgramOne-way business class award rateTransfer partners
Air Canada Aeroplan55,000-57,500 milesAmex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Marriott Bonvoy
Avianca LifeMiles63,000 milesAmex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, Marriott Bonvoy
United MileagePlus66,000 milesChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Bottom line

Air Canada's business class is a very underrated option for North American travelers looking to connect to major cities in Europe and Asia. While the airline had invested a lot of time and money in improving the seats on its 787s and 777s, this is the first A330 to be retrofit with Air Canada's top-of-the-line business class cabin. Many airlines have paused or deferred nonessential expenses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but according to Flightradar24.com Air Canada has two more A330s that are currently in Singapore, likely undergoing the same cabin improvement and retrofit (C-GEGP and C-GKUG).

Featured image by Air Canada

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases